The Skin Traveler
© 2001 Laura Fink / All Rights Reserved http://www.clockdomain.com Episode One - The Lion Doesn't Sleep Tonight
The sculpted bushes and phosphorous fountains of Shiver Tower Gardens began to fade, and Tock felt a strange buzzing in his head. He saw his hand reach in slow motion for his mouse, but before he could touch it, he found himself sitting in a dim corner of a dark enclosure. It smelled musty, like a cave. Beside him was his laptop. Although his cell-phone was nowhere in sight, computer appeared to be still on-line. Tock puzzled over this for a moment, and then began to look around. He heard voices speaking quietly in a foreign tongue. As he strained to listen, he found that gradually he was able to understand their language. The voices came from center of room, where a group of simply clothed men and women sat on floor, their heads bowed.
"And Father, please take away all fear, so that we may give honor to Your Name," one man said. "Amen!" other voices added in unison.
With shock, Tock noticed that he was dressed just like folk sitting on floor. Quickly, he stuffed his computer into a spare corner of his shell, as sound of clanging metal filled room. It was then that he noticed bars that closed off far end of room. A key turned in a lock, and bars swung open. The shadow of a very big man with a serious case of body odor filled room. "All of you, rise!" he bellowed. The small group stood meekly. The brute with key pointed his truncheon at Tock. "You, too! The lions are especially hungry, today!"
Tock froze, sweat running down his face. Mamma mia! This was not trip he had planned! He wondered vaguely where Tourist Information Office was located.
The beastly smelling, over-muscled Roman guard led Tock and others into a small holding pen which led, through a gate, into open coliseum. A faint roaring sound came from arena. What, lions were out there already? Tock wondered. His stomach tightened. But no, it was just roar of crowd. They wanted to see blood, guts, and ripped flesh. Tock wondered if he had time to download trailer for "Gladiator" from Net. Would that satisfy them?
Behind back of guard, who stood Rambo-like at gate to arena, Tock edged nearer to investigate a foul-smelling hole in one corner of room. Phew! The removal of human waste products certainly had improved in last millenium or two. A little standard lo-tech hygeine would be good for these folks. One of prisoners drew close to Tock and leaned down to whisper in his ear.
"Brother, I see you have noticed something of interest." Tock looked up at him quizzically, then down at primitive loo. Ah, of course! "Being of such small stature, you could find your way through this fissure down into sewage tunnels that criss-cross this city. And from there:"